Originally published June 14 2012
EPA in huge power grab to control all ditches and gullies on private land
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) As the federal Leviathan becomes ever larger and all-powerful, its Executive Branch tentacles reach further and further into the American fabric as it seeks to exert authority and control over more and more of our lives.
The latest power-mad grab can be attributed to the not-so-illustrious Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is using (misusing, actually) the Clean Water Act (CWA) to control all ditches, gullies and other ephemeral areas by trying to say they are navigable waterways. Sure - like the ditch in front of your home can support barge traffic or a U.S. Navy warship.
Lawmakers who oppose the grab said the ridiculous "waterways" claim made by the EPA are temporary sites at best, created by rain or melting snow, but if controlled would prohibit private property owners from utilizing their own land for raising crops, grazing livestock or any number of other uses.
"Never in the history of the CWA has federal regulation defined ditches and other upland features as 'waters of the United States," Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., the ranking committee member, and Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, chairman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, said in a recent statement.
EPA, administration 'not above the law'
"This is without a doubt an expansion of federal jurisdiction," they said.
Yes. No doubt. When the federal government can legitimately claim authority over land surrounding temporary puddles of water, liberty is truly dead.
Still, it's good to see that bipartisanship isn't completely dead in Washington. Republicans have been joined by some Democrats in opposing this blatant power grab by supporting legislation to specifically overturn the latest EPA regs.
"The Obama administration is doing everything in its power to increase costs and regulatory burdens for American businesses, farmers and individual property owners," Mica told Human Events magazine. "This federal jurisdiction grab has been opposed by Congress for years, and now the administration and its agencies are ignoring law and rulemaking procedures in order to tighten their regulatory grip over every water body in the country."
He added: "But this administration needs to realize it is not above the law."
The House measure, which faces a less certain future in the Senate and a likely veto by President Obama, has 64 co-sponsors from both sides of the political aisle. It was passed out of committee in early June.
Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican from the heavy cattle state of Wyoming and a sponsor of the Senate's version of the House bill, said in March that "Obama's EPA continues to act as if it is above the law."
Seriously, what exactly is 'protected?'
The agency "is using this overreaching guidance to pre-empt state and local governments, farmers and ranchers, small business owners and homeowners from making local land and water use decisions," Barrasso said. "Our bill will stop this unprecedented Washington power grab and restore Americans' property rights. It's time to get EPA lawyers out of Americans' backyards."
The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers say they wrote the new regulations in response to a pair of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 which removed some waterways from federal protection but created some confusion about what remained protected.
With that said, supporters of the legislation blocking the new regulations say jurisdictional limits set by the high court are being ignored by the federal Leviathan, and probably on purpose.
By the way, speaking of lawmakers, Congress has the power to curb abuses by the EPA and every other federal agency a) by cutting off funding to said agency(s), and b) by passing legislation that reduces the agency's power or eliminates it altogether. Since federal agencies are managed by the Executive Branch, which is headed up by the president, he too has control over their scope and duties.
The problem is, you have to have enough lawmakers who are cognizant of the Leviathan's overreach and a president who agrees.
Under current congressional and presidential conditions, that kind of agreement isn't likely.
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